Names have been changed to protect the innocent...and my husband...and me...but not the dog. His name is Dexter.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tip Tuesday-A Travelin' Fool

One of the questions I have been asked quite a few times since our trip to California has been "how was the drive?". Because, let's be honest, the combination of young children in a car for 10-12 hours each way can be a recipe for disaster. Disaster, I tell you.

And, in keeping with the honesty theme of this post, I must tell you that it really wasn't bad. No really. It could almost be called enjoyable depending on who you were asking. But it didn't just happen that way. I actually prepared in advance for the car trip almost as much as I planned for the rest of it. Can you even believe it?! I prepared in advance! I used to be able to do things like that a lot, but have since lost that ability. I think it has something to do with having children or not getting enough sleep or pollution or something.

For this week's (possibly month's) Tip Tuesday I'm going to share with you some of the things I did right on this trip. And some of the things I did wrong. Because those are inevitable for me. I will also share some random stories from our drive because I know you all totally want a play by play for all of the 20+ hours that we spent in our car.

First up, some things that worked:
**Fun kids music. Now, I know that may seem like an oxymoron, but it really does exist. Our theme album for this trip was "Under A Shady Tree" by Laurie Berkner. It's fabulous. We also had some Choo Choo Soul (great for anyone who likes trains or soul), You Are My Sunshine and a few others. Books on tape helped out as well.
**New library books that I read during the ride. This didn't work quite as well on the way down because the wind was so loud that I had to yell to be heard. I don't like yelling and I'm not very good at it.
**Toys borrowed from Grandma. My girls loved the view finders and that kept them entertained for quite a while. Or, like, 5 minutes. Same thing. I also had removed some of their toys that hadn't been played with in a while so they could make a reappearance on the drive.
**Pipe cleaners. Pipe Cleaners People! This was a huge hit. They can make things, you can make things for them, it's like a craft but not as messy and they're cheap.
**In the weeks before we left, I stocked up on little trinkets from Target's dollar section and the dollar store. Since we were going to Disneyland, I did a lot of princess things for the girls, but just about anything would work. A few things I got for them were tiny princess stamps with a cute bag to hold them and a note pad to draw on, sticker books, double sided mirrors (my girls LOVE looking at themselves in the mirror), giant wooden beads with string, silly putty, and things like that. I didn't actually use all of my tricks so what didn't get used went into my box of fun to use at a later time.

Some things that didn't work:

Well, I can't really think of anything we tried that really didn't work. But I can tell you that during the entire car trip I didn't get to do anything on my own because my time was spent keeping the kids happy. It was fine and I actually enjoyed getting to spend that extra time with them without the home distractions. On our trip to California we did take a portable DVD player and didn't even use it. I don't really have a problem with kids watching movies on a long car trip (putting on a movie for the 30 minute trip is whole different story & a bit ridiculous), but it was a last resort thing for me. Surprisingly, we didn't end up at the last resort. I have no idea why. I'm guessing the planets were aligned correctly or something. But on our most recent trip to St. George, I popped Alice In Wonderland in and let the girls enjoy. While I took a much needed nap. And that's okay, too. We all benefited from that time.

And now for some fun stories of our travels. On our way to California we stayed overnight in Las Vegas. Side note that must be shared-we stayed at The Eastside Cannery and were shocked. Not only was is a super great price, but the room was FABULOUS! So, if you're going to Vegas, stay there.
Anyway, the plan was to hit the M&M Store on our way out of town because our girls just love it. And I thought that might make the next four (more) hours in the car slightly less painful because they had gotten to do something fun. I think it worked. We had fun. And I even found the girls cute M&M t-shirts on clearance. Because that is just what I do.
Before we headed out of Vegas we had to stop for gas. And you know what that means. I HAD to play the slot machines. I begged a dollar off of CG and he obliged with minimal eye rolling. He didn't even wonder out loud how he could have ended up with a woman like me. So, I started out with a dollar lost some, won some and when I started losing again I cashed it out. One dollar in, three dollars out. Good times. But don't worry. I made it a teaching moment for our girls. I pointed out to them that it's fun when you're winning, but when you start losing it's time to cash out and move on.

Yes, tomorrow I plan on clearing a very prominent spot in our home for my Mother Of The Year Award.

Our trip towards California was otherwise uneventful, unless you count the time when I told CG that if he followed the stupid TomTom's (GPS) instructions and turned off Harbor Boulevard (which is the street our hotel was on) that our marriage was on line. Pretty typical travel experiences.

Our trip back from California was slightly more entertaining in a disturbing kind of way. While driving on the freeway we were blessed enough to be passed by a Very Large truck. With a "subtle" display of his personal beliefs on his trailer hitch. It was a large silver "male anatomy" swinging in the breeze. I was almost speechless. Not quite, but almost. Although I didn't find this truck to be nearly as disturbing as the truck we saw in LA that had the bumper sticker on it saying "If you really want to know what's happening in politics listen to Glen Beck".

Then came the exciting stop at some random gas station in Las Vegas. It was off the beaten path. Way off. Far enough off that it wasn't the classy part of Vegas, by any means. But we needed gas and a ladies room and this place offered both. I took my girls into the bathroom and while Lolly was doing her business we noticed something on top of the toilet paper dispenser that I thought probably did not belong in a public bathroom. I looked closer, didn't much care for the look of it and warned the girls to stay away from it. Which, of course, just made them want to play with it even more. I wanted to take a picture but didn't have my camera so you'll just have to use your imagination on this one.

We finished up with me feeling a little anxious to leave and informed the gas station attendant that there was something in there that they probably didn't want in there. He made an immediate beeline for the bathroom, then stopped suddenly to ask if we had touched it. I kind of laughed a little and said no. He would understand in a moment why there was definitely no touching.

It was about 12 inches long. The handle was about 3 inches and then after that it was 9-ish inches of sharp, pointy, thin, icky metal. There was no way we were touching that. You would have heard me screaming if there had been any touching.

He came out with it wrapped in a few layers of paper towels holding it as far away from himself as possible and was asking his co-worker if it was a prison shank. Clearly, this was our cue to leave this fine establishment. I had already tried to play the slot machine again and it had refused my previously won dollars so I took it as a sign that I wasn't meant to play again. So we continued on our merry little way.

Personally, I think the travel time is all part of the experience and one day, when my kids are older they will have memories of car rides like this to relive, laugh at and swear they'll never do to their kids. Until they have kids of their own, that is.

I see many more car rides in our future, so tell me....what are your great travel tips? Or horrific experiences that need sharing? I'm open to either since they're both part of the journey.


Kristina P. said...

Man, this makes me definitely planning on never traveling with kids. Ever. I will leave them on the side of the road. :)

Anonymous said...

Ahhh the memories. It made me laugh because my son swore he would NEVER take HIS kids on long, boring car trips, no matter how much they begged to go to Disneyland. Ha, ha they're planning their third trip in a year and a half to the happiest place on earth. He said if they couldn't fly, they wouldn't go. Well, they've flown various places a time or two and now he swears they won't fly until the kids are old enough to carry their own luggage. Glad you enjoyed your trip. I'm going to share the pipe cleaner idea with them. Love it.

hairyshoefairy said...

Dude! Pipe cleaners! Brilliant! I'm so storing that little gem in my brain so I can use it on my next long car trip. I'm glad the drive wasn't bad. I'm pretty sure ODD thought the same thing about me as CG though about you when I blew whatever change I had rattling around in my purse on a slot machine in Reno during one of our CA/UT drives. Great tips.

peewee said...

I survive with books on cd. But then I don't have kids. Just dogs. And they don't care what I listen to!

jillytacy said...

Giving the child control over the radio is a huge help. We all like Jack Johnson's Curious George soundtrack and we're fan's of Ben Rudnick and Friend's albums. They're ones you don't mind listening too. We also discovered the Pandora app for our phones. She has her own station and loves being in charge of putting thumb up or down. Downloadable audiobooks are great too. Of course we do a 5 hour ride not 10 +.

Anonymous said...

When your kids are a little older, give them a preset amount of spending money, but give it to them in dimes. Establish rules ahead of time, like no poking your sister or whining. If they break a rule, they have to give you a dime, no questions asked. Whatever is leftover is theirs to spend on souvenirs. They usually don't lose too much of their loot.

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